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To the left of the church belfry there's a yellow building with white decoration and a large arch in the centre. This was once a hotel and warehouse complex built by the C19th entrepreneur and businessman Vassily Kokorev.
Kokorev's Courtyard was famous the length and breadth of Old Moscow – the name of its owner, Vassily Kokorev, was on everybody's lips. He'd made his money in the wine and spirit business – buying wholesale and selling retail, and making money on the difference in excise duty. The trick hinged on the fact that State prices for wholesale vodka were fixed, but retail prices were based on whatever people were ready to pay. Kokorev made it big, and he ploughed his profits into oil investments in the Caspian Sea near Baku. He quickly became one of Russia's first oil-business tycoons. He spread his business interests wide, investing in many businesses and accumulating an even greater fortune.
Kokorev's next project was to publish books about how to run a successful business. One of them “A Billion In My Pocket” was a kind of biography. Thus he bought a large plot of land, right across from the Kremlin, and built a hotel costing two million. Originally he planned to call the hotel “The Sofiiskaya Courtyard”, but later changed it to name the hotel after himself. Kokorev's hotel was not only one of the best hotels in Moscow – it was also one of the largest.
Kokorev's Courtyard soon became the most fashionable hotel in town, and its guestbook was lined with celebrity names. The composer Tchaikovsky, for example, stayed here, and wrote “What a marvelous feeling in this hotel! I step out onto my balcony, and a view of the Kremlin greets me!” Kokorev saw the value in having famous artists staying, and even offered studios for rental – and a picture gallery, with more than 500 works on view. In the soviet era a further three floors were added to the hotel. Vassily Kokorev dipped into his own pocket to build his own boulevard street outside, running along the embankment of the Water Overflow Canal, from Lubochny Lane to Marshy Square. He then presented the entire new street, with its linden trees and limes, to the city.
Vassily Kokorev was born in 1817 in a family of market traders from Vologda, in the Russian North. His family were Old Believers – a strict sect which had split from the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-C17th. He was one of the first Russian oil tycoons, and built a refinery on the Caspian coast near Baku. One of the engineers at the refinery was the young Dmitry Mendeleyev – who later produced the famous Periodic Table of Elements, one of the most influential of scientific publications in Europe. Mendeleyev developed a system for 24-hour oil production at the plant. Among Kokorev's business interests were the Black Sea Shipping Company, the Volga-Kamsk Bank, and the first public art gallery in Moscow. During the time of the Crimean War, Kokorev personally organised and paid for the delivery of 100 carriages of provisions and warm clothing for the troops. The same carriages were used to evacuate the wounded from the Battle of Sevastopol.
The territories of historical district Zamoskvorechye lie on the right (southern) bank of the Moskva River. They joined Moscow in the 14th century when Russian lands used to suffer from the Golden Horde raids. The settlers mainly were soldiers, handicraftsmen and merchants. Their life was organized in a patchwork sloboda system. In 1591-1592 during the reign of Feodor I the fortified wall on the site of the present-day Garden Ring was built. Even now, one can easily understand from the street names what occupation the residents had centuries ago. For example, royal garden attendants (садовники, sadovniki) settled in the beginning of present-day Sadovnicheskaya Street from 1495 until the fire of 1701; tanners specializing in sheepskin (oвчинники, ovchinniki) gave their name to Ovchinnikovsky Lanes; royal mint workers (монетчики, monetchiki) – to Monetchikovsky Lanes, Court translators (толмачи, tolmachi) to Tolmachevsky Lanes. Bolshaya Ordynka Street was named after Orda, was the road to the Golden Horde, and was initially home to the Tatar community.
During our tour we are going to tell you about famous historic buildings in Pyatnitskaya Street, the main walking street of the district. We will walk around the State Tretyakov Gallery and listen to the story about the Tretyakovs, famous Russian businessmen, collectors and patrons of art, and the history of their collection and Gallery building.
There is also the house and museum of another famous Russian businessman and patron of art - Bakhrushin museum of theater, built in 1896.
Famous Russian writer Alexander Ostrovsky also lived in Zamoskvorechye, in Malaya Ordynka street. If you like his works you can visit his house-museum.
Zamoskvorechye is famous for its churches: Church of St. Sophia Of God's Wisdom on Gardener's Island and its belfry, Church of St. George the Victorious in Endova, The Church of the Ikon “the Joy of All Who Suffer”, The Church of St Nicholas at Pyzhakh, etc. Each of them has its own history and mystery.
With Your Audio Guide you will go through all the streets and lanes, get familiar with some interesting yards, explore the legends and myths and find out the truth. You will relax on the benches of Bolotnaya square; take pictures of the Kremlin domes, Giant Peter the Great statue, river embankments, learn about the former Mamontov Hotel and super deluxe Balchug-Kempinsky.